Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

A posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injury is a partial or complete tear of the ligament in the back of your knee. Ligaments are strong tissues that connect bones together. The PCL connects the tibia (shin bone) to the femur (thigh bone). The PCL stops the tibia from sliding too far backward or forward and keeps the knee stable.


CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • Repeated injuries to your PCL can cause long-term damage. This can lead to a weak, unstable knee, even during normal activities. You may feel your knee give way more often. When the PCL is injured, other ligaments of the knee may also be affected. One or more of the menisci (cartilage shock absorbers between knee bones) may also be damaged. Injury to the PCL may cause the ligament to pull off a part of the shin bone.

  • Splints, braces, and casts can cause discomfort and limit your usual activities. If you have surgery, you could get an infection or bleed too much. Even with treatment, the knee may not be the same as it was before the injury. Without treatment, a PCL injury can cause you to have a weak knee or problems walking.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Medicine:

  • Medicines to treat pain, swelling, or fever: These medicines are safe for most people to use. However, they can cause serious problems when used by people with certain medical conditions. Tell caregivers if you have liver or kidney disease or a history of bleeding in your stomach.

Physical therapy:

You may need to see a physical therapist to teach you special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also help improve strength and decrease your risk for loss of function.

Tests:

You may have one or more of the following:

  • Arthroscopy: Caregivers may want to look inside your knee to check for signs of a PCL injury. Caregivers make a small incision (cut) in your knee and insert a scope through it. The scope is a long tube with a magnifying glass, a camera, and a light on the end.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging: This is also called MRI. During the MRI, pictures of your knee are taken. An MRI may be used to look for PCL tears or other injuries.

  • X-ray: This is a picture of the bones and tissues in your knee joint. A joint is where two bones meet. X-rays cannot show a PCL injury but may show other problems, such as broken bones or arthritis. You may need more than one x-ray of your joint.

Treatment options:

You may need surgery if you have a bad PCL tear together with other injuries. This may include injuries to other ligaments, a broken bone, or a cartilage (shock absorbers between knee bones) tear.

  • Repair: A PCL tear may be repaired by reattaching the torn ligament.

  • Reconstruction: Reconstruction of the ligament may be needed if it cannot be repaired. Caregivers may replace your injured PCL with a part of a tendon taken from another part of your body. If a large portion of bone is pulled off with the torn ligament, it may be reattached using internal screws.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury (Inpatient Care)

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